This has been an awkward winter – mostly too warm for skating and skiing, too cold to pretend it’s not winter. Winter has finally arrived. I awoke to ten inches of fresh powder and a temperature of 14º F (-10º C). The bike club postponed its ski trip three weeks ago due to lack of snow. Somehow they picked today. Can you say “perfect”?
I headed to the outskirts of town and waited for the group to assemble. Folks made fun of me for my 45 year old boots and 50 year old gaiters. The skis, bindings, and poles were slightly newer. When I lived in California I once lamented to my friend Curtis that my wooden back country skis had cracked and all I had left were the plastic waxless skis with the fish scale bottoms. For California conditions, they were actually preferable to wood and wax. Next thing I knew, Curtis was at my front door (no mean feat, since we lived 400 miles apart) with a pair of lightly-used wooden skis.
Half the fun of skiing is picking the right wax for conditions (though I found out last year that the vast selection of waxes from my youth is no longer available). We used special green for 5-14º F, green from there to 23º, and blue from there up to just below freezing. There were several others (including a slew of waxes for the transitional temperatures above freezing) but those were the mainstays and I’d run out of green.
Today was a special green day and the skiing was perfect! Untrammeled snow, freshly groomed but not tracked. (Tracks sometimes feel too much like transportation and not enough like fun.) In some places, they hadn’t gotten out with the machine at all, so it was just fresh powder deep enough to make my skis disappear, and that sparkled like diamonds in the brief moments that the sun poked through.
A rabbit hopped down the trail toward me, followed by a mink. The mink was enough to convince me to pull out the camera. The mink was shyer than the rabbit so, while the rabbit hopped past me, the mink turned around when I stopped. I had to satisfy myself with a snowy landscape photo sans mink.
The trail wound through the woods and onto a golf course before eventually getting me back to the starting point. A coffee shop on the way home beckoned with the offer of a cortado and a chocolate/espresso scone. An hour and a half of skiing is enough to make one hungry and thirsty. Since I had to discard my old woolen ski knickers (which were both too small and worn out) I did a little online shopping while I had my treat. I figured if these young whippersnappers (truth be told, some of them were near my age) are going to tease me about my old equipment, a pair of wool knickers with wool knee socks oughta put ’em in their place.
I expect that snow to beckon again Monday morning. We’ll see if I answer the call, as the forecast is for 1º (-17º C) and breezy.